Pan Fried Tilapia In Pesto Cream Sauce

This recipe is sponsored by Sea Cuisine, all opinions are my own.

Pan fried tilapia bathed in pesto cream sauce on your table in less than 30 minutes!

This pan fried tilapia recipe tastes straight out of a gourmet restaurant but is an easy, one skillet recipe ANYONE can make!  This speedy recipe is made with herbaceous, garlicky, Sea Cuisine tilapia cooked to tender, flaky perfection then bathed in a lux basil pesto cream sauce lifted with bright pops of lemon.  This tilapia recipe is elegant, comforting and the epitome of minimal prep, big flavor.  Serve this garlic herb tilapia with mashed potatoespasta, or rice with a big green salad and garlic bread and you have a stunning dinner a fraction of the price of dining out! 

If you’re looking for more tasty fish recipes to add to your repertoire, you’ll love mahi mahi in lemon cream sauce, lemon pepper salmon, blackened salmon in creamy Cajun saucelemon Parmesan salmon, Asian BBQ salmon and mahi mahi fish tacos!

HOW TO MAKE tilapia recipe VIDEo

top view of pan fried tilapia fish recipe in a skillet with sauce
side view if pan fried tilapia fillets in a skillet garnished by basil
top view showing what tilapia looks like before cooking the recipe

What do I need to make the Tilapia sauce?

The sauce for the pan fried tilapia is wonderfully simple yet exquisite from simmering just a few ingredients.  Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to create this hypnotic blend (full recipe with measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):  

  • Pesto:  This tilapia recipe is blushing with pesto brilliance! Use my fabulous pesto recipe or for convenience, pick up a jar of basil pesto at the store.  You can freeze unused pesto in an ice tray, then transfer the cubes a freezer safe bag for small portions any time you need it. 
  • Heavy cream:  This is often called “heavy whipping cream” at your grocery store. 
  • Chicken broth: Make sure to use low sodium broth which allows you to salt to taste.
  • Cornstarch:  This allows us to use chicken broth instead of all heavy cream by helping to thicken the sauce.
  • Lemon juice:  Freshly squeezed is always ideal but you can use bottled in a pinch because we are only using one tablespoon.
showing how to serve pan fried tilapia recipe with mashed potatoes

HOW TO cook tilapia

This tilapia recipe is a spectacular saucy, repeat favorite simple enough for every day, exquisite enough for company or special occasion!  Let’s look at just how easy it is to make in 3 steps! (See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for measurements.)

Step 1:  Pan Fry the tilapia

Heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet over medium high heat, medium if your skillet runs hot.  Add the frozen Sea Cuisine Smart Indulgence Roasted Garlic and Herb Tilapia fillets in a single layer and cook until a deeply golden crust forms, flipping halfway though, about 10 minutes.

showing how to cook tilapia by pan frying in oil in a skillet
showing how to pan fry tilapia in a skillet until deeply golden

Step 2:  Make the sauce

Reduce heat to low and add heavy cream to the now empty skillet. Mix chicken broth with cornstarch and add to the skillet, followed by the pesto.  Bring sauce to a simmer while scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan; simmer until the sauce thickens to desired consistency, stirring often. Stir in a splash of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

showing how to make tilapia recipe by making a sauce with heavy cream, pesto, chicken broth and cornstarch

Step 3:  Combine

Add the tilapia fillets back to the skillet and spoon the sauce over top. Serve over pasta, mashed potatoes or rice and dig in!

up close of pan fried tilapia in a pan showing how crispy it is
  • Use a heavy cream substitute:  Swap the heavy cream for evaporated milk mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Just remember that fat equals flavor so the cream sauce won’t taste quite as decadent.
  • Make it lemony:  As written, the sauce isn’t super lemony, just brightened by the lemon juice.  If you would like more of lemon sauce, add an additional tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Add vegetables:  Add any chopped vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, bell peppers, corn, cherry tomatoes etc. and sauté them after you’ve cooked the salmon, then stir in the sauce ingredients. 
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes:  Pesto and sun-dried tomatoes are heavenly together!  Purchase sun-dried tomatoes in a jar packed in oil, not water. They are usually located near the olives or pickles at your grocery store.  Chop about ½ cup and sauté for a minute before adding the sauce ingredients.
  • Add capers:  Add 2-3 tablespoons capers for a tangy, briny, lemony explosion. They add both acid and salt which intensify the flavor of the sauce. They should be easy to find by the olives at your grocery store.
  • Add artichokes: These are tender, slightly sweet and nutty and divine in creamy sauces. Purchase artichoke hearts in water NOT marinated. The marinated ones often have an acrid taste. Chop and sauté for a minute or so before adding the sauce.
  • Add Parmesan: Depending on which pesto you use, or if you simply want a more Parmesan punctuated sauce, whisk 3-4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan into the sauce to melt at the end of cooking. Use freshly grated Parmesan cheese grated on the finest holes of your grater for superior melting ability and flavor.
  • Spice it up:  Add red pepper flakes to enliven the sauce or add to individual servings.
showing how to serve pan fried tilapia recipe with mashed potatoes
up close of serving tilapia recipe garnished by lemon

WANT TO TRY THIS Tilapia RECIPE?

PIN IT TO YOUR Fish, seafood, dinner or 30 minute recipe BOARD TO SAVE FOR LATER!

FIND ME ON PINTEREST FOR MORE GREAT RECIPES!  I AM ALWAYS PINNING :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

up close of serving tilapia recipe garnished by lemon

Pan Fried Tilapia with Pesto Cream Sauce

This pan fried tilapia recipe tastes straight out of a gourmet restaurant but is an easy, one skillet recipe ANYONE can make!  This speedy recipe is made with herbaceous, garlicky, Sea Cuisine tilapia cooked to tender, flaky perfection then bathed in a lux basil pesto cream sauce lifted with bright pops of lemon.  This tilapia recipe is elegant, comforting and the epitome of minimal prep, big flavor.  Serve this garlic herb tilapia with mashed potatoespasta, or rice with a big green salad and garlic bread and you have a stunning dinner a fraction of the price of dining out! 
Servings: 2 servings
Total Time: 25 mins
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins

Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box

You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat (medium if your stove runs hot) in a nonstick skillet.
  • Add the frozen fillets in a single layer and cook for 10 -11 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking. Cook until golden on the outside with a minimum internal temperature of 145 ̊F; transfer to a plate.
  • Reduce heat to low and add heavy cream and pesto to the now empty skillet. Whisk chicken broth with cornstarch and add to the skillet.
  • Bring the sauce to a simmer until thickened to desired consistency, stirring often. Stir in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper (I add about ⅛ teaspoon of each).
  • Add tilapia back to the skillet and spoon the sauce over top. Serve over pasta, mashed potatoes or rice.

Video

Notes

Tilapia: You will find Sea Cuisine in the frozen seafood section of these retailers: Target, Kroger, Albertson’s (Vos/Shaws/Acme/Jewel), and Food Lion.  To find a store near you, follow this link and enter your zip code.

How to Store and Reheat

  • Storage: Tilapia should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for three to four days.  
  • To reheat: Microwave for 1 minute followed by 20 second intervals until heated through, taking care not to overcook or warm in a skillet over medium-low heat. 

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 Secrets to
30 Minute Meals

Tips, tricks & recipes to get dinner on the table fast!

FREE EMAIL BONUS